Wolf-whistling and other street harassment should be turned into a criminal offense, says France’s gender equality minister.
The country’s new gender equality minister Marlene Schiappa has called for proper legislation to ‘frame the situation’ of street harassment so it’s taken seriously.
Schiappa, a 34-year-old feminist and mum-of-two, has set up a parliamentary working party aimed at changing the law.
‘We’re in a grey zone,’ said Ms Schiappa. ‘Nowadays, when a woman is whistled at in the street, insulted or followed, that’s not classed as an assault or harassment because there are no elements of proof.
‘There is no point filing a complaint against X because the details are not sufficient. It’s absolutely necessary to frame the situation and to get rid of the definition of harassment that we have today.’
Ms Schiappa added: ‘We will create a new offense, to define its contours, the evidence and the sanction – a spoken warning and then a fine.’
Ms Schiappa added: ‘There are places where you may feel comfortable when you are a woman,’ she said. ‘One often takes the example of the Chapelle-Pajol district where a woman will think twice before putting on a skirt.
‘But it is not a question of stigmatizing part of the population, or certain neighborhoods, because this behavior can appear anywhere and everywhere.’
In 2015, a poll of 600 women in Paris found that ‘every female user of mass transit has been a victim’ of harassment.
Half of the women said they first experienced harassment when they were under the age of 18.
The survey was handed to a French women’s rights ministry in April 2015.
President Macron pledged to bring this problem to an end during his election campaign earlier this year.